Participate in the model M keyboard archive project.
“Millions of the award winning Classic Touch 101 Key Keyboards (aka: IBM model M keyboards) have been sold. Its positive, tactile feedback from Lexmark’s patented buckling spring actuators gives a unique touch and feel. Plus, based on a 40 hour work week, this unit’s MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) is an incredible 26 years of operation. Extremely durable, tested to 25 million keystrokes, the Classic Touch 101 Key Keyboard has earned a world-wide reputation as a trouble-free, efficient product”
“Lexmark’s remarkable family of keyboards incorporates the latest technological innovations with industry-wide praised reliability. Our keyboard line offers diversity to accommodate specific workplace needs. From space-saving efficient features like our 16mm and 25mm Integrated Trackballs to noise-reducing rubber dome technology. Lexmark continues to be the trend-setting leader in keyboards.”
source: Lexmark International, Inc brochure P/N 1399258 (1993)
Did you know that every model M keyboard has a unique serial number and production date stamped on the back of each individual keyboard?
We have always been interested in the ruggedness and extreme durability of the IBM model M keyboard since they were introduced at the very beginning of the personal computer revolution in the 1980s. Now 25-30 years later, many of these original model M keyboards are still in use and have become vintage (but still quite useful) artifacts of an earlier computing age. (Contrast this with some brand new keyboards that become unusable after 2 or 3 years due to cheap plastics and cost-cutting, manufacturing “shortcuts”) How many other electronic devices from the 1980’s do you own and how many are still in good working order?
In the early days, computers and PC hardware were constructed as business-class professional-grade machines and instruments for specialists. It used to be that keyboard manufacturers printed the individual date of production and were proud to show that items were “Made in USA”.
Today, computers and keyboards have become more simplified, commodity items to be built with the lowest-cost and lightest-weight parts. Today, keyboards appear to be less planned and architected by product engineers for actual users with real human hands and fingers.. but are now “designed” by sales and marketing departments as “fashionable” items with ultra-lightweight construction, mood-enhancing LED lights, glossy shiny-shiny plastics, super black stealthy mode, bulbous shapes, knobs and extraneous buttons, and ExTrEm HaX0R model names. Everyone can go to the local store or go online and buy a $7 keyboard that was mass produced with just enough parts, with perhaps a generic sticker printed yesterday that says that it was built “just in time”.
When did we forget that the primary function of a keyboard is not a fashion-accessory for the office desk– but a tool to transform thoughts and mechanical effort into electrical data signals for a computer.
For the very few that still appreciate the tactile feel of a typewriter-based computer keyboard and can still appreciate the simplicity of black letters on white keys, one can still seek out and own an original IBM model M keyboard — a little piece of early computing history.
There is the expectation for the master craftsman to invest in quality precision tools and instruments to transform work and raw materials into finely crafted goods. We believe that the modern, computer professional should have similar quality keyboards to turn his or her thoughts into computer code.
At first, we thought we were among the very few who appreciated the tactile feel and sound of a well-designed mechanical keyboard. Since we have been selling these keyboards online since 1999, we have always wondered about the following questions….
- When was the exact date that the first model M keyboard was first produced?
- Who owns the oldest functional model M keyboard?
- Can anyone do analysis of the range of serial numbers to determine the total number of model M keyboards produced?
- How many original IBM model M keyboards still exist?
- How many other model M fanatics are there?
- How many dumb, eBay idiots find a keyboard in the attic and then pretend to be online keyboard experts and know how to scam, but then do not know how to read.. For example, they look at back of the IBM model M keyboard and see the info on Part No 1391401, ID No 8946869, Date 10-FEB-95, and Plt No. F1. but then mistakenly report that the keyboard is from 1984, ’cause it, like, uh, duh.. says (c) IBM Corp. 1984
As part of our ongoing efforts to collect and catalog information about model M keyboards, we have setup the following online database to assist in keeping track of model M keyboards that are still in-use today. Much of the information in the databases below is the result of compiled information from our own previous sales over the past several years.
Other model M keyboard fanatics are welcome to add to the database and contribute their date-specific and serial number info to the following Google Docs spreadsheet.
Data will be reviewed and collated on a regular basis. Please report any problems or questions to email@example.com